(The Misconception Between Success and Happiness: UNCOVERED!) From a very young age, we are taught that achieving specific milestones of success – getting good grades or even best if we can, getting into a famous university, having a prestigious career or title, having a certain amount of money saved in the bank, living in the perfect dream house, marrying the right person according to our personal perspective, and having talented or well-behaved kids later on will make us happy. The frustrating truth is that none of these things have anything to do with happiness, not even one. Right from the beginning, we have been confused that achieving these goals will bring us forth to the doorway of happiness. It has been inducted into our minds that the attainment of these milestones is the pursuit of happiness, but at the end of the line, we only got success – not happiness. For those who are contented to being just successful, let me ask you, “What happens when you reach the goal that you have been setting for?” “Do you feel really happy, elated, and ecstatic?”. . . “If yes, then for how long?” “How long do or could you maintain that heightened and elevated feeling of euphoria after you reach your goal?”. . .
For most of us, the answer would probably be “very long,” but without the biases and cover-ups, the answer is really “not that much long.” Let us just say – a day, a week, or even a month or more. Then, “What happens when those feelings fade?” It would just appear that you are not that much pleased to have reached your goal, but not because the goal loses some of its meaning. It is just that we consider the part of achieving to being our happiness. And once the moment of achievement passes, we would be looking for the next goal, the next achievement, and the next pursuit of success – not happiness. In other words, we seldom spend time basking in the satisfaction of what we have achieved or what we already have before achieving anything. We tend to set another goal, and then the next, and the next. Sometimes it may feel that you will just become happy “when. . .” And when that condition is met, you will later find out that you are not really happy at all, at least not for that much long. Then you start looking for the next goal to pursue. This is a description of the pursuit of success – a false definition of happiness that depends on a never-ending string of achievements.
We can even pursue achievements that have little long-term meaning or even those that endures for a lifetime – a degree or title, but these secular goals will still not bring us to profound happiness. For those who are already having second-thoughts about being contended to being just successful, you might ask me, “So, what is happiness anyway?” or “What is my definition of happiness?”. . . For me, “It is not really that sense of euphoria; it is not pleasure, but something larger, deeper, emphatic, yet fundamental.” In other words, happiness is less an event and more an ongoing state of mind, and a way of focusing on the larger picture – the journey, the quality, and the essence of experiences. It is often about defining your values and purpose, and staying true to them. To increase your level of happiness, you do not need more “happy moments,” rather, you need a more positive outlook on all moments – a sense that they are part of the tapestry of a life well-lived, that they are consistent with your nature, that they are mirrors of who you really are. The greater truth is that success does not create happiness, but happiness can create success.
Think about people who seem to attract success – not the ruthless competitors, but the ones you just naturally want to be around. Those people who seem to bring others up, those who find an opportunity in any circumstance, and those who are contented or even passionate about pursuing a personal goal. Given the choice between pursuing achievements to become happy and finding inner happiness and letting success come to you, which do you think is more successful? There are, of course many ways to have both achievements and happiness. The mistake is in assuming that success or achievement alone will bring you happiness. When achievements are connected to your core values, then happiness is built into your achievements – for achievements alone for their own sake seldom lead to happiness and often feels like an addiction for over-achievers who keep looking for that next goal in the hopes that it will be soul-satisfying and lead to ever-lasting happiness.
Actually, the secret to happiness is not at all related to setting goals and achieving them. Happiness is a state of mind that allows you to be contented and appreciate each moment for what it brings, and to increase it by honoring your personal core values and purpose. The good news is that you can create happiness in almost any circumstance, even with the very basic and most natural situation. There is no really a need for us to set our goals to things so far, all we have to do is appreciate the things we already have. Being satisfied for what we have may not bring our hearts to Heaven, but being contented to what God has bestowed upon us will certainly bring Heaven into our hearts. “Success is getting what you want; Happiness is wanting what you get.” – Ingrid Bergman